3 Things To Absolutely Do After Open Enrollment

Mark Rader Benefits Communication, Open Enrollment Communication

after open enrollmentWithin a month or so, the open enrollment period at your company will probably be over. (Hurray!)

And after you’ve taken a few weeks to celebrate and decompress via deep, healing breaths, it will be time, we’re sorry to report, to step back and assess how well it went…and start thinking (even just a little bit) about what you want to have in place for your employees next year.

How might you approach this process, I’m pretending you asked?

Here are three easy steps:

#1. Briefly meet with your team to talk about What Went Well (WWW) and Could’ve Been Better If (CBBI), as it relates to this year’s open enrollment goals

This sort of meeting might feel redundant, as you’ve probably talked casually about what was going well (and not so well) as open enrollment was moving along. But it really is worth it to sit down with your entire team and focus on this together like a benefits-laser-beam for an hour or so. Specifically, make a point to:

  • Think about why your department met (or didn’t meet) its hard and soft open enrollment goals. (Examples of such goals: migrating more people into a new plan, getting more people to sign up for a wellness program, increasing usage numbers on a benefits decision support tool)
  • Conduct a friendly critique of the benefits communications that came from your department. Might there be a way to organize the benefits guide better next year? If you’d had more time to create posters and brochures (or the resources of a pro), what might you have tried? Invite everyone to be honest and be honest yourself. You don’t need to figure out the exact solution to whatever could have been better yet. But it’s useful to be clear-eyed about where there’s room for improvement.
  • Spend 10 minutes trying to capture your early ambitions for the next year’s enrollment season with two guiding words. Theme words, if you will. Two. That’s it. If you found yourselves winging it a little in terms of scheduling emails or putting up posters this year, maybe it’s Timeliness. If you found yourselves feeling a little bored by your own Power Point presentations, or the posters you basically recycled from the last two years, it’s possible your audience did too. So maybe: Refresh. (By the way, if you’d like some more ideas on planning and creating more engaging OE content, download our free Ultimate Open Enrollment Communications Playbook now.

#2. Send a brief survey to your employees to find out their opinions about your benefits communications

If you don’t already have an account at an online survey provider (SurveyMonkey is a good one), take a sec to sign up for one.

Once you’ve done so, take 20 minutes to build a survey that allows your employees to anonymously answer a series of questions about which forms of communication they engaged with last year, and their experience with them. In advance of the survey, consider sending along a compilation of those communications to jog their memory about what you shared.

Your questions will vary depending on what information you’re trying to find out, but below is one example, for reference:

Four Quick Questions about Our Enrollment Season Communications

How effective were our benefits communications (benefits guide, emails, seminars, benefits fairs) in helping you make confident choices about your benefits last year?

Ø Effective

O Somewhat effective

O Neither effective nor ineffective

O Somewhat ineffective

O Ineffective

2. Would it bother you if we tried to make our benefits communications less straightforward and more engaging?

Ø Yes, go for it.

O No, keep things like they are.

3. Would you be more likely to read benefits reminders if we texted them to your cell phone rather than email them to your work email address?

Ø Yes

O No

4. What parts of choosing your benefits feel most confusing or frustrating–and what do you think might help you in understanding those things better?

Comments:

Lastly, include a little area for general comments, so people can congratulate you or offer suggestions in their own words.

#3: Before the year is over (and your chance to use funds from this year’s budget is over), create a basic benefits communication strategy for the first quarter of next year

We know it’s a pain in the butt to start thinking about the future only a few weeks after open enrollment ends.

But if you start with time to spare (i.e. in November or December) you’ll give yourself a chance to identify benefits tools or programs you might want to add or enhance for January, February and March…and possibly be able to use leftover budget from this year to pay for them.

What kinds of resources or tools or programs might you think about adding (or improving upon)?

a) Resources that remind your employees about their plan–and tell them how to actually use it–once those plans kick in on January 1.

b) Resources that are tied to employees’ desire to change bad behaviors at the start of a new year, like:

c) And resources that help explain what the heck the IRS 1095 form or forms they’ll be getting are, and what they should do with them. (Maybe you did this last year, but folks are probably going to need a reminder.)

By the way, if you do have an interest in adding some of these kinds of communication tools, we’ve got you covered. Just contact us.


If you liked this post, you should also check out:

4 Tips for Supporting HDHP Newbies

9 Tips for Using Humor in Benefits Communication

The Ultimate Open Enrollment Communication Playbook